Youths pelt Santa with stones
A VILLAGE'S annual Christmas spectacular was marred when "mindless" thugs pelted Santa with stones, leaving him with a badly bruised head.Police are now investigating the attack, which happened as Father Christmas and his sleigh toured Glemsford, near Sudbury, on Sunday evening as part of a community carol singing event, organised for charity by the local primary school.
A VILLAGE'S annual Christmas spectacular was marred when "mindless" thugs pelted Santa with stones, leaving him with a badly bruised head.
Police are now investigating the attack, which happened as Father Christmas and his sleigh toured Glemsford, near Sudbury, on Sunday evening as part of a community carol singing event, organised for charity by the local primary school.
The threatened event only took place after a last minute community effort saw Santa's sleigh, which arsonists burnt to a cinder, rise from the ashes as a replacement was made.
The original piece was targeted on Monday, December 1, when firebugs struck at Glemsford Primary School, setting fire to wheelie bins. The flames spread to a playhouse where the sleigh, complete with a wooden reindeer, was stored, leaving it totally destroyed.
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Although it was feared the festive tour would have to be cancelled, well-wishers rallied round to save the day. Local business, residents and members of the Friends of the school joined forces to make a new sleigh in time for the big event.
And on Sunday, a 40-strong group toured the village alongside Santa and his sleigh, singing carols and collecting money for charity.
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But the festive celebrations were marred when a group of rowdy youths pelted the sleigh with stones as it travelled along Lion Road, with one of the boulders hitting Santa on the head.
Furious members of the community have now hit out at the group, who are also believed to have collected money from several households after falsely claiming to be fundraising on behalf of the school.
John Stewart, 32, a member of the Friends of Glemsford School, had stepped in at the last minute to play the role of Santa, and was left with a badly bruised head as a result of the incident.
He said: "Most of the stones hit the side of the sleigh, but one hit me on the head. I am very angry because I could have easily been blinded if the stone had hit me in the eye.
"I agreed to be Santa out of the goodness of my heart and to help out the community and this is what happens. I think it is such a shame.
"It had been a great night and it was brilliant to see the kids faces when they met Santa, but it was ruined by these youths when they started taunting us and throwing stones.
"It hurt when it hit me and it has left a mark on the side of my head."
Glemsford Primary School headteacher Liz Steele also slammed the "mindless" youths, who were aged around 13 to 14.
"We first called the police after some of the group went ahead of the sleigh, knocking at doors and saying they were collecting money for the school, which they weren't. I believe they collected quite a lot of money.
"Then, as we reached the second half of the tour, a group of youths came out of the dark and starting bouncing around and taunting us. They started throwing stones and one hit Santa on the head.
"We are very upset because everybody has been marvellous since the fire and the whole community has pulled together, but the youths' behaviour was a real let down."
A Suffolk police spokesman said: "The incidents in Glemsford on Sunday night have been reported to us and we are now investigating the matter."
Anyone with any information should telephone Pc Den Mullett on 01284 774300.